The event, revolving around the theme of “Building Tomorrow, Connecting Today”, is part of the ongoing 33rd ASEAN Summit, from November 11-15.
In his remarks at the event, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed that ASEAN is a vibrant, interconnected region of 630 million people. It is already the sixth largest economy in the world and is projected to become the fourth largest by 2030 after the US, Europe, and China.
Describing ASEAN as an attractive destination for investment, Lee said that the bloc attracted some 140 billion USD in foreign direct investment last year.
“Technological change is also creating new business prospects, with the ASEAN digital economy projected to grow to 200 billion USD by 2025. This will bring about many more opportunities for our micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, as well as more jobs for our young, educated workforce”, he stressed.
He affirmed that ASEAN leaders have committed to accelerating the issuance of policies and initiatives to better conditions for the business community to thrive. More specifically, ASEAN member states inked the first protocol to amend the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement and the 10th and final package of commitments under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services.
In addition, the attending countries concluded the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement and the fourth protocol to amend the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement; signed the ASEAN Agreement on e-Commerce; and endorsed the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework towards making ASEAN more business-friendly for the e-commerce sector, he added.
ABIS 2018 placed focus on the discussion of important initiatives of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC), including cooperation in connecting the region’s smart cities; dialogues amongst leaders to promote the issuance of policies that link businesses, as well as endorse initiatives to facilitate enterprise integration; and cooperation with large partners like the US, Australia, India, Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea.
Leading some 80 Vietnamese firms, Vice President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Doan Duy Khuong said that Vietnam has a number of initiatives which support business communities, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The ASEAN centre, now set up in each ASEAN country and displayed at the ABIS in 2010 when Vietnam was holding the ASEAN Chairmanship, is a notable one, he said, adding that it created the premise for the implementation of Singapore’s ASEAN Smart Cities Network this year, an ecosystem which creates favourable conditions for links between localities and businesses.
The VCCI also picked up leading firms to join the ASEAN BAC, while joining hands with other member states to support SMEs in finding markets and choosing rational financial tools, he underlined.–VNA